Bleacher Report says Falcons backup is one not to give up on

NFL: AUG 04 Atlanta Falcons Training Camp

Though the Falcons are giving the reins to Desmond Ridder, shall he falter, there is a more than capable backup waiting in the wings — Taylor Heinicke.

There’s been no indication that Atlanta will bench Ridder if the results aren’t immediate; in fact, it was reported the club will give the third-round pick a lengthy run to prove he’s the long-term answer.

Still, the front office didn’t bring in one of the best reserve quarterbacks in the league for no reason. Heinicke has proven to be a capable placeholder, providing a spark for his team, most notably in the playoffs, going toe-to-toe with Tom Brady.

That and so many other performances prompted Bleacher Report to include Taylor Heinicke in a list of players not to give up on.

Maybe it’s just me, and there’s probably a good reason both the Washington Commanders and Atlanta Falcons have prioritized unproven young non-first-round picks over him since the conclusion of the 2022 season, but I still think the Falcons should keep a short leash on Desmond Ridder and prepare to give a real shot to veteran sometimes-backup-sometimes-starter Taylor Heinicke.

Heinicke’s 30 now, but that’s young when you’re a gently used quarterback in this day and age. And he’s had some nice moments. Two years ago in Washington, he went on an undefeated four-game tear in which he posted a 110.0 passer rating. And in 2022 in the same city, he wrapped up the campaign with another triple-digit rating in a four-game span.

Among quarterbacks with at least 50 deep passing attempts in 2022, the Old Dominion product ranked third behind only Jalen Hurts and Joe Burrow with a 115.5 rating on said throws.

He’s not your typical undrafted journeyman backup. In the right setting, he might even have the ability to become an above-average starter. And there’s a very good chance he’s got more potential than the much younger but completely unproven Ridder.

If the 23-year-old struggles out of the gate, the team has to make the switch and give Heinicke a fair shot.

Heinicke replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick when the veteran went down in 2021 and again in 2022 when Carson Wentz struggled. He’s got plenty of experience as a starter, culminating in a 7–8 record in 2021 and 5-3-1 record in 2022. Heinicke even has playoff experience. He plays fearless and has taken advantage of the opportunities presented to him. Expect him to be part of Ridder’s support system and a jolt of energy to the Falcons offense if called upon.

Photographer: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire
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